If I Can Only Help You Be Me, I Can’t Help You - Grasshopper
If I want to make you into my image and likeness, I am playing God in a very bad, off-Broadway production.
There’s nothing wrong with unvarnished me and there’s nothing wrong with the internal raw material of you; yet, on the outside, I have some conditioned habits that don’t serve me well, and I do you a disservice if I pass them along to you.
If my counsel only tries to make you like the public, spit-polished me that I want the world to see, then we are both beyond help.
My grandmother had a saying for people who gave advice they weren’t qualified to offer: “Do as I say, not as I do.”
I came to understand she was talking about the part of us that blinds us to our flaws. Even the most perfect diamond has flaws; it’s a matter of degrees.
I exhibit extreme hubris if I tell you the answer to your problem is to be like me. That has two immediate downsides for you:
- It’s impossible for the conditioned you to be the conditioned me, even if we sprouted from the same pod as identical peas.
- Even if you tried hard, you wouldn’t find you; you would only find a poor imitation of me.
I may be able to point you in a direction, but if I direct you to be like me, that would deprive you of finding out how to do it yourself, and from meeting yourself.
“If only they were more like me, they wouldn’t have such problems.” If they were more like you, then both of you would be card-carrying members of The BS Conglomerate. Their club motto is: “Do it my way and you’ll be OK.”
If you really want to help someone, help him or her find their essence, not suggest that they imitate your effervescence. Before offering any external input to them, mentally create a space within yourself where you both can enter without judgement, and silently invite them to wander around inside the real you, where you don’t offer advice, just a room with a view.
They’ll find that that space belongs to them as well. It’s the common ground where no one follows and no one leads; it’s the place where the seeds of solution get planted.
Any advice I offer that uses the conditioned me as a superior example gives you a flawed foundation that will eventually crumble beneath you.
Yes, there are certain formulas you can offer that are tried and true, just don’t present them as being like you.
Remove “My way” from your advice and help them discover their own highway away from their vice.
All the best,
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